Tag Archives: Khaki Socks 1915.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


14th – 16th July, Fri: Bivouacs.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to HIBBETT FAMILY, 95, Foden Rd.Walsall.

Bully Beef Bungalow’.  Friday July 16/ 15.

Dear People,

I must first say how comfi  the socks, I mean the khaki socks, were. I don’t know how the grey ones kind Mrs Barrans* knitted feel  – for Sydney needed a pair so I gave him those & I kept the soft onesthey are nice and soft too. I thank you so very, very much.  How lavishly the gifts were stowed in the parcel & something even in each letter.  A bit a cash in Mother’s & what I thought by feeling a pencil but turned out to be a cigarette holder silver too my word.

I was especially pleased to have a letter from Dodger* & I read Corp. Penning’s letter with great interest (& enclose it with this letter as Dodger said he wanted to answer it).  We have seen many of the RGA (1) & thought I might have overlooked him.

I had a letter from Miss Foster* the same day as Mother’s  & it was written on Sunday & posted on Monday.  She said that Nottingham had a storm which lasted all that Sunday from 7 in the morning till 9 at night, so all the Midlands must have had the large storm, if not all England.  I was going to head this letter ‘Raining’ for the weather here has been unsettled.

Well ‘you do surprise I’ – at promising to send us another parcel next week.

Harold’s gifts to us both you would like to know – sugar sweets, Bovril, Chocolate, Country Life Cigs, Bottle of Lemonade Crystals, Tin of Mineral Spring Salts (2), toothpaste etc. & a nice long letter.

Tins of Mineral Salts. 1915.
Tins of Mineral Salts. 1915.

In my letter to Okoo* thanking him for the parcel I have got confused as to whether I said the same in my letter to MotherDid I tell you I was delighted with Dad’s few lines at the end & amused at his witty little bits?  I often think of you when the post comes to you.  Do you generally have our  letters in the morning & do you generally  breakfast in the dining room?

I have a sunny  recollection of Dodger at table and the morning bright light through the lovely curtains & window on a white tablecloth & flowers on it.  Dodger is finishing his breakfast, in a hurry to catch the train, when he sees the form of the postman through the stained glass window.  Ida hears the sound of his feet from the kitchen & races to the door in a  desperate effort to out do Basil Dodger  – as he coolly pops his hand through the window & secures a letter from his affec. brother,  


PS Mother will be interested  to hear that I got a photo of the kiddies (3) at Sutton today. Miss Bore* sent me some Boardman’s & Player’s bacca  & a card of Sutton Keeper’s Pool (4).

Sutton Park: Keeper's Pool.
Sutton Park: Keeper’s Pool.

I recognised the path along the side of the lake, where the kiddies flocked round me & I had to keep a sharp eye on them for fear they fell in.

Players Navy Cut Tobacco.
Players Navy Cut Tobacco.


Well goodbye for a time.

PS  My Dear Dodger,  I have just re- read Penning’s* letter. It is now raining miserably & into the tent & I am smoking a pipe of Miss Bore’s bacca to cheer meself up -somewhat like once – (well on the 18th of May I look in my diary, & see we were in camp).  We returned from the trenches on previous Sunday night & it was Sydney’s birthday on the Monday we were in camp.  As for the 29th of June we had a Route March & saw the pipers & spent most time in camp drilling in full pack.

Edward James Montague-Wortley.
Edward James Montague-Wortley.

Sir Stuart Wortley* (5) came to see the Reserves – in which is Charlie Harrison*, who’s foot seems quite all right now.  We will keep a sharp look out & it will be a hearty hand shake.  You will picture us looking up at him on his horse & us squeezing his hand – so if the palm of your hand itches you’ll know that I have nearly  rung his hand off see (6).  Bertie.

PS  Looking forward to Ida’s Champion chatty letter.  We are always marching, marching – went digging all day again on Thursday & saw Harold  Hinde* who is in the Cycle Corps (sic) (7).

Army Cyclist Corps Badge.
Army Cyclist Corps Badge.

His brother Cyril*, who has been with us all along, has gone to a Rest Camp.

I will stop now – got a lot more correspondence.   Bertie.



(1) RGA: Royal Garrison Artillery (active 1899 -1924) manned heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, with cavalry. After Battle of Marne (Allied Victory, 5-12 Sept. 1914 ) RGA was positioned well behind infantry, firing on unseen targets, often supported by Royal Flying Corps using wireless telegraphy. cf. Wikipedia.

(2) Harold the chemist’s gifts of Mineral  Salts & Bovril indicate concern at Army’s unhealthy diet.  (3) St Paul’s Sunday School Outing, Walsall.

(4) Sutton Keepers Pool. Sutton National Nature Reserve, 7th largest urban park in Europe.  WW1 Convalescent Camps in the Park. <www.scnhsc.org.lakes> originally built as medieval fishpond (lido built 1887, closed 2003).

(5Edward James Montague Stuart-Wortley. 1857 -1934. Kings Rifle Corps. Distinguished colonial service. WW1: General Officer Commanding (G.O.C.) 46th Midland Division.T.A.  Kept King George V informed re- activities of the Division. Controversely dismissed  for ‘lack of offensive spirit’ 1st July 1916, Battle of the Somme.

(6) Charlie Harrison*: before War, one of Arthur Hibbett’s clerks in Education Office, Walsall. (7) Cyclist Corps : chief role – armed reconnaissance & communication. Also security patrols along canals. See Website Old Sweats Centurion. Often used as manual labour & in Front Line.

NEXT POST: 19th July 1915. 



South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


13th July, Tue: Bivouacs.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
20th Birthday: 12th July 1915.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings. Rheninghelps.  ‘Mother’s BirthdaySent card before, while in trenches.  Went on fatigue at Yves Canal (Ypres)’ (1).   

Rough Map of Staffords Route to the Front. 5th July 1915.
Red Arrow:  Rough Route of  Staffords to the Front. 5th July 1915.  Blue: Ypres-Comines Canal.


LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. 

Mother’s Birthday. July 13/ 15.

My Very Dear Mother,

Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest & receivest unto Thee. Evening Prayer Psalm 65. (2).

It is evening & I have enjoyed a very nice tea with Mother’s lemon curd & the rest of the lovely cake.  I was almost afraid I should not be able to get a line in today to wish you a very Happy Birthday for we have been out digging a long way off since five this morning & returned for  tea.

Happy that I have had the opportunitySo I hope you will have had a quiet & pleasant day & will have enjoyed a good night’s repose by the time this letter gets to you.  What a lovely & nice one yours was, with Dad’s witty little line at the end. Yes, for Mummy’s sake, I hope to be at Home – sweet Home next year.

Was my day fine?  How flattered I felt when you said the flag would be flying.  Flying too for Prince John (3).  I am twice the age of the young prince, –  what think ’bout that eh!  I must thank Ida for her hurried letter & Dodger’s thoughtfulness in including Penning’s*  letter, which we both read with interest.

Have you, dear Mother, popped the lucky 6d in Dodger’s pocket?  Is he keeping fit & not faint? (4).  Oh what a chorus we shall both have now with the mouth organs – the cigarettes well how generous you are.  I think I at least ought not to have any more parcels for a jolly long time – these two ought to make up for a dearth to come.  And  above all to enclose a bit of cash too

I feel like you Mother.  How can I express my gratefulness, after all it is only my duty that I am out here for I am sure I do not deserve such luxuries. Sydney came to my Bully Beef Bungalow & we both tucked into the ripping things, quenched our thirst with the chunks and cream.  I am very sorry I shall have to be concluding for there is a rifle inspection soon & Mother would not like me to get into trouble.

What nice Psalms they are for yours & my birthday (5).

St George's Church, Persehouse Street, Walsall.
St George’s Church, Persehouse Street, Walsall.

You remember the Bishop of Stafford (6) reading out the 4th verse of Psalm 65 at St. George’s Church (7) the year I was confirmed?  It was on the 12th day & it snowed on our return home.     I feel destined to enter in for Holy Orders.  It  will be hard I know to pick up Latin & Greek, but with His strong help I hope to get through. The Rev. Darling* said he hoped I should return safely so that I could teach his dear son Scripture – nice of him eh!  

And what did you have for tea on this your birthday?  Harold’s parcel to us both was also ripping, but at the same time it looked as if a chemist had packed it (to his credit).  Would you like to know what was in it?  Well I will write again soon, but sorry I must stop now.

Very best love & may our Heavenly Father give you more strength to bear your anxiety ‘little cross’ with more cheerfulness than ever.  Mrs Jones* said you were surprisingly cheerful.

Best love to all.  Your affectionate son,  Bertie.



(1) Yvres/ Ypres/ Ieper Canal. (cf. Salient Map. July Welcome Page). 

(2) Psalm 65 v. 4 continues: . . . he shall dwell in thy court and shall be satisfied with the pleasures of thy house, even of thy holy temple. My father was confirmed at St George’s Church, Walsall and appears to have felt a calling to Holy Orders (as a priest) ever since.

3Prince John was only 5 years younger than my father in 1915 (he was kept away from public eye and his disability was not made known until after his death, in 1919) cf.12th July Letter. (4) Basil was about to take Junior Oxford Exam at QMS, Walsall.

(5Psalms 62-70 for 12th & 13th Day.  Anglican Book of Common Prayer. 1662.  Opening verses includeMy soul truly waiteth still upon God;  O God thou art my God: early will I seek thee; Hear my voice O God in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy; God be merciful unto us and bless us.  (6Edward Ware, 1846 -1915. Bishop of Stafford 1909-1915. (7St George’s Church, Persehouse St. Walsall (not far from 95, Foden Rd.).

NEXT POST: 16th July, 1915: Pictures & Memories of Home.